When I was a kid, Mr. Sub was the go-to submarine sandwich chain in Canada. But when Subway arrived in the late '80s, it very quickly pushed the domestic sandwich shop to a marginal position. Mr. Sub ended up playing by Subway's rules, with fresher bread and more toppings, but it's hard to compete when there's a Subway on practically every block.
Now, they've taken a page from Tim Horton's playbook. With the recent resurgence in (dryly ironic) Canadian patriotism, they're hitching their brand to their Canadian identity:
The one above is the better of the two, because it's how we see ourselves.
The one below shows how we think Americans see us.
This campaign caught the attention of my friends at Adland, where author kidsleepy quipped, "This spot makes fun of Canadians and the Canadian stereotype that they are all polite and orderly. Because they are Canadian."
Damn right, eh? Americans (and other nationalities) are often puzzled by our self-deprecating national pride.
One of my favourite Canadianisms is what I call the "Canadian standoff". It's when two or more Canadians approach a doorway at the same time, and end up delayed because each one insists that they other one goes first.
That's who we are. It's not that we aren't proud of our culture; we really are. But we also think that to take oneself too seriously is tacky. So we express our patriotism by showing the world that we are confident enough to make fun of ourselves.
It's just our way. Sorry.